Sometimes you just have to wait for the good stuff to drop in your lap. And five years have already elapsed since the recording of this Swedish compilation “Big City Rhythm Vol.1” and apparently there’s already a welcome “Volume 2” in the market place.
But working on the assumption that this is an imperfect world there must be loads of other blues lovers out there who don’t know of this album’s existence let alone the excellent Swedish Blues talent that fleshes out the 21 tracks here. Time to put the record straight! In doing so you quickly discover that this excellent assemblage of Swedish blues players didn’t magically drop from the sky. Sweden boasts its own coterie of excellent bands including Knock Out Gregg & Blue Weather (a band that regularly has played and recorded with Mike Sanchez), Sven Zetterberg and Trickbag. So while the individuals who play some cutting edge swing, boogie and blues here may not be familiar to you, their pedigree and musical standards is quickly apparent.
There is so much to admire here from both from the inspired playing to the tight arrangements. It is almost hard to believe that many of these players were simply thrown together on some of the tracks and that following little more than a run through they cut such an inspired range of the blues.
The results are both as surprising as they are eclectic at times. There’s West coast Swing, shuffle boogie, Jump blues and Chicago Blues to 50’s R&B, blues ballads and good rocking in abundance. Above all, none of the performances slip into predictability as a succession of instrumental, vocal and collective cameos pushes the material to its full potential.
If there is a sense of the reverential it is mostly tempered by a jet fired musical frisson that ignites many a spark in a joyous romp.
Personal favourites come thick and fast as both vocalist/guitarist Daniel Kordelius, fellow guitarist Jonas Goransson and the harp playing Joakim Barcheous rip things up on Furry Lewis’s “4th & Beale” while Tobbe Eliasson’s tenor sax led “Bongo Bob’s Funeral” is almost taken as a tango, with Jonas Goransson adding some clever guitar flourishes.
On the good rocking shuffle boogie of "Breakin Up" both Anders Lewen and Marino Valle add very effective double tracked vocals and Jakob Norgren even evokes the baritone ghost of Earl Bostick on the good rockin’ instrumental ‘The Big Bite’ alongside Anders Lewen on guitar. The latter switches to vocals on the rockin piano/led boogie ‘Rock This Morning’. There’s more of the same on the Jonas Gorannson penned and Norgeren’s baritone led "Curly’s Revenge" but it’s Jonas’s startling flurry of guitar notes that stands out.
This album is best approached in one sitting so you get a feel for the light and shade of both the playing and the wide array of blues styles. Broadly speaking if it doesn’t swing you won’t find it here, but there more to this album that just good time party music. Listen for example, to the fine vocals of Anders Karlsson who sounds like Kim Wilson on “I Feel So Fine” and really hits the mark on “Back in Time”, one of the very best blues cuts on the album. Everywhere you turn there are highlights with another excellent vocal outing from Emil Arvidsson who impresses on “Its All Your fault” with some impressive abrasive blousing shouting nicely offset by Andrea Angkvist-Resch on rolling piano. Harmonica Henry saves his best contribution to last blowing some mean dirt sounding harp on the closing cover of ‘Black Night’.
File under good rockin’ blues Swedish style!